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Send money overseas: Western Union vs TransferWise

Which money transfer service has less fees and better rates when you need to send funds overseas?

When you need to send money overseas from Australia, choosing the right provider to handle the transaction is crucial. Poor exchange rates and high transfer fees can turn a simple transaction into an expensive nightmare and leave a big hole in your bank balance, so it’s vital that you compare transfer providers before sending any funds overseas.

Western Union and TransferWise both offer competitive international money transfer services from Australia to countries in all four corners of the globe. But which company offers the most affordable and convenient transfers? Let’s compare them and find out.

Compare Western Union and Transferwise

Rates last updated November 19th, 2017
Name Product Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Services Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description
TransferWise International Money Transfers
AUD 1
1 - 2 days
Online
Make online transfers with transparent exchange rates, low fees and low minimum amounts.
Western Union International Money Transfers
AUD 1
Same day
Online, Phone, Agent, Bank Account to Bank Account, Cash Transfer, International Money Order
Send money online to friends and family around the world with Western Union.
The ‘Rate’ and ‘Amount Received’ displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention “Finder” before you commit to a brand.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated November 19th, 2017
Name Product Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Services Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description
TorFX International Money Transfers
AUD 200
1 day
Online, Phone, Agent
TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction. Conditions apply.
Send money overseas in 45 currencies. Once registered, you'll be assigned an Account Manager who can provide support and guidance.
Exclusive: OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers
AUD 250
1 day
Online, Phone, Agent
Exclusive offer: Discounted exchange rates for your first and ongoing transactions. $0 transfer fee.
A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers. Send money in 45 currencies.
Exclusive: WorldFirst International Money Transfers
AUD 2,000
1 day
Online, Phone
Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee and discounted exchange rates for your first trade only.
A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers. Send money in more than 130 currencies.
FC Exchange International Money Transfers
AUD 3,000
1 day
Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account
FC Exchange can save you money with its Best Exchange Rate Guarantee. Conditions apply.
No transfer fee when transferring more than £10,000 or equivalent. Send money in 43 currencies.
XE International Money Transfers
AUD 0
1 day
Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account
Enjoy fast, secure and fee-free international money transfers from global payments provider XE.
HiFX International Money Transfers
AUD 50
2 days
Online, Phone, Agent
Make your first transfer for free
Send money in more than 40 currencies.
The ‘Rate’ and ‘Amount Received’ displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention “Finder” before you commit to a brand.

Compare up to 4 providers

Meet the contenders: Western Union vs TransferWise

Western Union: One of the best-known names in the international money transfer game. With a history dating back to 1851, Western Union offers quick and easy transfers to more than 200 countries around the world. You can use Western Union to send in-person cash transfers or online transactions, and you can send funds to overseas bank accounts or for cash collection from more than 500,000 Western Union locations worldwide.

TransferWise: TransferWise is a much newer arrival on the international transfer scene, founded in 2011. The London-based company operates a peer-to-peer money transfer service that promises fast transactions and bank-beating exchange rates. All transfers are sent online to your recipient’s bank account.

Exchange rates: Western Union vs TransferWise

The exchange rate is often the most crucial factor in determining the affordability of a transaction. You want to find the highest exchange rate available so you get the best value for the Australian dollars you want to convert into another currency.

Western Union: Western Union’s exchange rates vary greatly depending on the amount of money you are sending, where you send it and the transfer method you select. They also change daily. However, it does offer a handy price calculator on its website to help you find out what exchange rate will apply to your transaction. Like most money transfer providers, Western Union makes money on the margin between the mid-market exchange rate and the rate it offers to its customers.

TransferWise: Meanwhile, because TransferWise is a peer-to-peer money transfer service, it allows you to send money overseas using the real mid-market exchange rate. As a result, it offers superior exchange rates to Western Union and is a clear winner in this category. TransferWise’s live rates are easily visible by selecting your currencies on the provider’s homepage. Click 'Go to Site' in the table above to see the rates for your transfer.

The table below compares exchange rates for a $1,000 international money transfer in several common currencies. Make sure to compare current live rates between transfer providers before submitting a transaction request.

TransferWiseWestern Union cash transferWestern Union bank account transfer
AUD/USD1 AUD = 0.75860 USD1 AUD = 0.7320 USD1 AUD = 0.7320 USD
AUD/EUR (France)1 AUD = 0.66442 EUR1 AUD = 0.6034 EUR1 AUD = 0.6170 EUR
AUD/GBP1 AUD = 0.58489 GBP1 AUD = 0.5550 GBP1 AUD = 0.5550 GBP
AUD/INR1 AUD = 49.11176 INR1 AUD = 48.1896 INR1 AUD = 48.1896 INR
AUD/NZD1 AUD = 1.04167 NZD1 AUD = 1.0062 NZD1 AUD = 1.0062 NZD
AUD/CAD1 AUD = 0.98540 CAD1 AUD = 0.9282 CADN/A
AUD/PHP1 AUD = 38.41892 PHP1 AUD = 37,719.29 PHP1 AUD = 37,7193 PHP
AUD/CNY1 AUD = 5.15867 CNY1 AUD = 5.1147 CNY1 AUD = 5.1407 CNY

*Exchange rates at 07/07/17. Always source a quote for current rates.

Transaction fees: Western Union vs TransferWise

The other main cost you need to consider when sending a transfer – and the other way transfer providers make money – is the transaction fee.

Once again, Western Union’s fee varies depending on the amount you send, the destination country and your transfer method. The price calculator tool on its website can be used to work out how much you will have to pay for your transaction.

As it doesn’t apply an exchange rate margin, TransferWise relies on charging fees to make money. Fees vary depending on the amount you send and where you send it, but a minimum fee of $2 always applies. For example, the following fees apply if you want to send AUD to GBP with TransferWise:

  • Amounts up to $10,000: a fee of 0.7% applies
  • Amounts over $10,000: a fee of 0.7% applies to the initial $10,000, and a 0.5% fee applies to anything over that amount

You can find full details of TransferWise’s fees on its pricing page, but the table below outlines transaction fees for a number of common currencies when sending AUD$1,000:

TransferWiseWestern Union cash transferWestern Union bank account transfer
AUD/USD$6.95$20 (credit or debit) $9 (bank transfer)$0 (credit or debit) $4 (bank transfer)
AUD/EUR (France)$6.95$70 (credit or debit) $9 (bank transfer)$10
AUD/GBP$6.95$20 (credit or debit) $9 (bank transfer)$10
AUD/INR$6.95$20 (credit or debit) $9 (bank transfer)$4
AUD/NZD$6.95$20 (credit or debit) $9 (bank transfer)$10 (credit or debit) $4 (bank transfer)
AUD/CAD$6.95$70N/A
AUD/PHP$9.90$28 (credit or debit) $7 (bank transfer)$10 (credit or debit) $4 (bank transfer)
AUD/CNY$14.78$18 (credit or debit) $9 (bank transfer)$8 (credit or debit) $6 (bank transfer)

*Rates correct as of 07/07/2017. Always source a quote for current rates.

As you can see, the right provider for your transfer will depend on the size of your transaction. For example, while TransferWise is a cheaper option when sending $1,000 to China as per the table above, if you were sending $5,000, TransferWise’s fee rises to $73.90 while you still only need to pay $8 (bank account transfer) or $18 (cash transfer) to send the funds with Western Union.

How to send money with Western Union and TransferWise

It’s quick and easy to send money overseas with both Western Union and TransferWise. If sending money online with Western Union you will need to follow these simple steps:

To send cash online with Western Union:

  1. Click 'Go to Site' in the table above.
  2. Register for a free account online.
  3. Verify your identity with a valid form of ID, for example your driver’s licence or passport.
  4. Login to your account and enter the details of your transaction (how much you’re sending and where, including your recipient’s bank account details).
  5. Pay for the transaction with your credit or debit card.
  6. You will receive an email confirmation with a tracking number.
  7. The money is deposited into your beneficiary’s account.

To send cash from a Western Union location:

  1. Visit your nearest Western Union branch.
  2. Complete a “Send Money” form.
  3. Give the Western Union agent the completed form and the funds to cover the transfer amount and fee.
  4. Save your receipt and give the tracking number to your recipient so they can collect the cash.

If you want to send funds with TransferWise, you will first need to sign up for an account:

  1. Click the 'Go to Site' button at the top of this page.
  2. Sign up for an account on the TransferWise website.
  3. Verify your ID.
  4. Enter the details of your transfer, including the amount, currency and your recipient’s bank account details.
  5. Pay for the transaction using your bank account or card.
  6. Your funds will be sent to your beneficiary’s bank account within 1–4 working days.

The latest in foreign exchange

Supported countries and currencies

Before you choose a transfer provider, it’s important to check whether it will allow you to send money to your chosen destination and in the currency you want.

Western Union is the clear winner in this category, offering transfers in more than 135 currencies to over 200 countries. Rather than listing all the supported transfer destinations here, we recommend using the price calculator tool on the Western Union website to find out where you can send funds.

TransferWise doesn’t support as many currencies as Western Union, but it does allow you to send and receive the following currencies:

  • AUD
  • USD
  • GBP
  • EUR
  • CHF
  • PLN
  • SEK
  • NOK
  • DKK
  • HUF
  • CZK
  • BGN
  • RON
  • NZD
  • JPY
  • BRL

It also allows you to send (but not receive) the following currencies:

  • INR
  • HKD
  • MYR
  • PHP
  • PKR
  • MAD
  • THB
  • AED
  • UAH
  • IDR
  • COP
  • GEL
  • TRY
  • MXN
  • RUB
  • KRW
  • CNY
  • LKR
  • BDT
  • VND
  • ZAR

Transfer options: Western Union vs TransferWise

There are several other options you should consider to help you decide which transfer provider offers the most convenient service for you. Check out the table below to see how Western Union and TransferWise stack up across a number of other key categories.

Western UnionTransferWise
Payment methods
  • Credit or debit card
  • Instant bank transfer
  • Cash (in-person cash transfers)
  • Electronic funds transfer
  • Credit or debit card
Transfer time
  • Within minutes (cash transfers)
  • 1–4 working days (bank transfers)
1–4 working days
Maximum transaction limit
  • $5,000
  • $18,000,000 (when paying from bank account)
  • $3,500 (when paying by card)
Business paymentsYesYes
Forward contractsNoNo
Limit ordersNoYes

Customer support

One of the often-neglected factors you should consider before choosing a money transfer service is the customer support it provides. This ensures that you will be able to have your questions answered promptly and problems efficiently dealt with if they arise.

Western Union: Western Union offers a frequently asked questions section on its website, while you can also access help via phone and email customer assistance.

TransferWise: TransferWise offers a handy online help section with a wide range of frequently asked questions and basic advice articles. Phone, email and live chat support are also available.

To get a clearer idea of the services and support offered by transfer providers, it’s a good idea to read online reviews from other customers.

Which option is better: Western Union or TransferWise?

Whether you should send your international money transfer with Western Union or TransferWise depends on the details of your transaction. In most cases you will find that TransferWise represents the more affordable option, with better exchange rates and lower transfer fees, so it will usually be the best option if you are looking for the cheaper of the two.

However, there are certain situations where Western Union is a more suitable choice, such as if you want to send an exotic currency not supported by TransferWise. Western Union is also a worthwhile option if you’re looking for the speed and convenience of a near-instant cash transfer, allowing you to transfer cash to someone on the other side of the world within minutes.

Consider your transfer needs and objectives before you lodge a transaction and you will be able to choose the right provider to help you send money overseas.

Tim Falk

A freelance writer with a passion for the written word, Tim loves helping Australians find the right home loans and savings accounts. When he's not chained to a computer, Tim can usually be found exploring the great outdoors.

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International Money Transfer Offers

Learn about our information service
TorFX International Money Transfers

TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction. Conditions apply.
Send money overseas in 45 currencies. Once registered, you'll be assigned an Account Manager who can provide support and guidance.

Exclusive: OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers

Exclusive offer: Discounted exchange rates for your first and ongoing transactions. $0 transfer fee.
A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers. Send money in 45 currencies.

Exclusive: WorldFirst International Money Transfers

Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee and discounted exchange rates for your first trade only.
A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers. Send money in more than 130 currencies.

FC Exchange International Money Transfers

FC Exchange can save you money with its Best Exchange Rate Guarantee. Conditions apply.
No transfer fee when transferring more than £10,000 or equivalent. Send money in 43 currencies.

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